Nashville Parts professionals at all levels must embrace the vehicle electronics revolution in order to take advantage of the opportunities they can provide to the aftermarket, said Frank Ordonez, vice president, Delphi Corp., and president of Delphi Product & Service Solutions. “We need to get this revolution going. There’s a lot of opportunity for us.”
Ordonez made his remarks at the general session of Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance’s 2009 convention, dubbed “Aftermarket Jam 2009” in Nashville at the Gaylord Opryland hotel. More than 1,700 distributor shareholders, outside sales professionals, store managers and owners/managers of affiliated automotive service facilities attended March 4-8.
“Parts stores need the vehicle electronics product expertise,” said Ordonez, in order to take market share away from automotive dealerships. “Technicians are counting on the WDs, parts stores or the jobbers. They must have the right products on the shelf. Parts stores can be the specialists.”
There are three big ideas the aftermarket must embrace because they’re on the minds of the buying public, Ordonez said. They are: safety, staying connected and being green.
“They’ve come to expect they’ll walk away from nearly every accident,” Ordonez said. As a result, an average of $700 in safety equipment is added to every new vehicle.
Connectivity is another vastly evolving segment of the industry. Industry research shows that by 2010, 25-30% of vehicles will be equipped with telematics. Ordonez believes the key to making telematics successful for the aftermarket is to find a business model and make it comprehensive. Any telematics system, if it reports data to repair professionals, must be passive. “Consumers aren’t going to hook up their cell phone to upload data to us. It has to happen automatically.”
The third big idea green “is a subject on the minds of everyone,” Ordonez said. “Tighter regulations of carbon dioxide emissions are imminent.” The federal goal of 35 mpg by 2020 will require a 40% increase in efficiency. “We’re facing a significant challenge.” Diesel is a short-term way to lower emissions, Ordonez said.
“Why has a continent like Europe gone diesel the way it has? It’s 40% more efficient than the gasoline engine.”
Americans drive 60% of their time on the highways, which is where diesel is at its best, he said. On highways, hybrids autos are working on gasoline anyway. “Diesel is the quickest way to become more efficient and reduce emissions, but we also must move beyond this.” Ordonez pointed to compressed natural gas (CNG) and gas direct injection (GDI) vehicles, which provide higher fuel economy and fewer emissions, as methods to achieving the 35 mpg goal. “There’s still a lot to be done with gas engines,” he said.
The convention also featured 18 business seminars, all accredited by the University of the Aftermarket. More than 110 vendor booths filled about 70,000 square feet of the Gaylord Opryland’s exhibit hall.